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This CEO turned his coffee startup into Starbucks' greatest competitor

At our recent Powder Mountain weekend, we snapped artisanal coffee icon Bryan Meehan employing his own mobile brewing paraphernalia (including bag of just-roasted beans and miniature coffee grinder not shown). No, he wasn’t celebrating the company’s monster half-billion dollar investment from Nestle—that was last fall—or continued rocket growth (at 50 stores, they’re adding a couple dozen a year, including an eighth in Japan in a few days—of course he visits them all).

The real occasion (as more directly demonstrated a couple nights later at a nearby Utah Tex-Mex): Bryan, sporting the sombrero on the left, recently turned a very young 50. A golden touch serial entrepreneur before Blue Bottle (Nude Skincare; Fresh & Wild organic supermarkets), he tells us his first venture was at age 16 in Dublin helping his dad start an automotive components company where they needed a loan. In one case, they were turned down by a London-based financing company. So Bryan wrote the CEO, Edwin Wulfson, saying if you don’t take a chance on people like us, success will never happen. Wulfson agreed to a $200,000 facility, and the business became a success. Last year, decades laters, on the lawn of the Summit lake house in Utah, Bryan met someone in the Summit community named Jason Wulfson. It was Edwin’s son, and it was moving.

The real Big 50 celebration was last month at a destination b’day party for 100 at the famous Ballymaloe cooking school in East Cork, Ireland. While there might have been a drink or two imbibed (presumably of coffee), much of the activity was actually doing yoga, of which our enterprising investigative reporter secured a photo. That’s Bryan in between wife Tara and superfood maven, Courtney Boyd Myers with another longtime Summiter, Kevin Vilkin, on the other side of Tara. Expect to see similar circles in coming years at Powder Mountain: Bryan’s building a home there and using the architect of Blue Bottle stores to design it.

Bryan and Tara at the party with their three daughters, Olivia, Eve, and Orla. And the theme that explains those dresses and Bryan’s cool headband and shades? "Love-In 1968," the year Bryan showed up.

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